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‘Very possible’ Mike Nugent is Raiders kicker to begin season with Eddy Pineiro out with groin injury

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Dallas Cowboys v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Midway through Raiders training camp, the battle between Eddy Pineiro and incumbment kicker Giogio Tavecchio ended. They let Tavecchio go in favor of veteran kicker, Mike Nugent. And thus began a new battle for the Raiders kicker spot.

Even still, it appeared the job was Pineiro’s to lose. The undrafted rookie looked very good in camp and made all three attempts in the team’s first preseason game against the Lions, including makes from 45 and 48 yards.

Then he was lost to a groin injury and hasn’t returned. And suddenly having another proven option was a very good thing.

It’s not known yet how long Pineiro’s injury will have him out. Leading to the inevitable question if the Raiders kicker heading into the season will be Mike Nugent.

“Yeah, it’s possible, very possible,” Gruden said of Nugent starting the season as the Raiders kicker. “He’s (been) an 80% kicker for 13 years. I don’t know what the exact percentage is, but he’s a good kicker, he’s been a good kicker for a long time. You don’t make it in this league unless you are. He’s got the mental toughness and reliability to overcome a bad game or a bad kick. Right now he’s the leader in the clubhouse because Eddy’s not healthy.”

To be specific, Nugent is an 81% field goal kicker over his career. For comparison, Sebastian Janikowski has been an 80.4% kicker over his career. Where they deviate is outside of 50 yards where Janikowski is 55% for his career, having made 55 of 100 attempts. Nugent has attempted just 29 in his 13-year career, making 12 (41.4%).

Jason Marcum from SB Nation Bengals blog Cincy Jungle said Nugent isn’t quite the picture of confidence Gruden paints him to be, but that he has made some big kicks when called upon.

Well, he’s your typical ‘above average’ kicker who loses his confidence with a team, gets recycled and latches on to another team once he gets his confidence back.

He’s was pretty solid for the Bengals from 2011-15, though he’s never been a good long-range kicker. He’s 12 of 29 from 50+ in his career, but he made almost all of his kicks from under 50 during that span, including some really big ones that won big games for the Bengals.

But his downfall came when the PAT rule was changed and he had to start kicking them from further. He missed six extra points in 2016 before the Bengals finally cut him. He had missed five in the previous 11 years.

If his head is right, he’ll be serviceable, but his team should always be looking for something better.

The former second round pick spent his first four NFL seasons with the Jets where he made 81.5% of his kicks, but made just three outside of 50 yards. Over seven years in Cincinnati he was an 80.8% kicker, going 11 for 28 outside of 50 yards.

He spent part of last season in Dallas with Rich Bisaccia, where he made 7 of his 9 attempts in four games.

Nugent has had four attempts in his two games kicking for the Raiders this preseason. He made kicks from 30, 31, and 32 and missed wide left from 49 yards out last week.

Pineiro made 17 of his 18 attempts at Florida last season. He missed one in the season opener and then didn’t miss again. And still hasn’t.

Raiders open the season in exactly two weeks. Pineiro has until then to see if that groin is healthy enough for him to go.